Sunday, August 9, 2015

So much love and support

So M has been gone for about a week now and we've been left to process our time with her.  Over all we had a wonderful hosting experience.  This is not always the case for all families.  All of these kids have gone through tough times as children and a lot of times their behavior stems from those tough times.  M didn't show many of the issues we were warned about and trained on. We are so thankful.  She was a very typical teenager in our eyes.  Not perfect, a lot of sass, but also had the capability of connecting and loving.  We know if we end up hosting her again we may have a totally different experience since she would be a bit more comfortable, but bottom line, we were so surprised at how well adjusted she seemed to be.

We had A TON of support through this journey.  The prayers, hugs, texts, calls, emails, gifts we got from our friends, family and even acquaintances was a HUGE encouragement for us.  It was so awesome to have you all along this journey with us.

In addition to people we also had some wonderful organizations and companies help us make this time in America special for M.  Dr Goodin and his wonderful staff, Dr Lee and his wonderful staff, The San Jose Earthquakes, Stitchfix, Wild Water Adventure park in Clovis, Christina's Fine Clothing and probably others we can't even think of at the moment... but one we really want to recognize is a wonderful organization called Father to the Fatherless.  They helped us with a large portion of our hosting fees and they have also helped Todd and Amy a number of ways to help with their adoption.  In addition the founders of the organization are good friends of Todd and Amy who have also adopted from Eastern Europe.  They want to help other families be able to host and adopt.  They are a newer organization so please help get the word out and if you would like more information you can visit their website at

We are so thankful for the internet and the ability to communicate with our sweet M while she is across the world. We do a lot of messaging on social media and have even used skype for a phone call.  This girl has forever changed our lives for the better.  Hosting was one of the best decisions we made as a family.  If you would like more information on hosting you can visit The next hosting is over Christmas break!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Two weeks from today!

In two weeks from today we will be getting ready to head to the air port to pick up "M".  Her flight gets in at 9pm so when the kids should be getting ready for bed we will be getting ready for out little adventure to pick up this sweet girl!

There are still quite a few things we need (and want) so i've made a list below in case any one wants to help us!  I will update this list by crossing off what comes in so you all can see what's been claimed.  Just so you know, her favorite color is pink!

  • Bible in Russian 
  • Cute Journal 
  • Highlighters 
  • Duffle Bag
  • Cheap Mp3 player (CAN NOT BE APPLE BRAND) Something like this.
  • Cute Teen Backpack 
  • Swim Suit (Guessing size small but wont know until she's here for sure)
  • Winter Coat (Guessing size small but wont know until she's here for sure)
  • Sandals (not sure what size yet)
  • Running Shoes (not sure what size yet)
  • Casual Tennis Shoes (not sure what size yet)
  • Clothes (not sure what size yet)
  • Socks (size small)
  • Sports Bras (one size fits most?) to get her by her first few days here
  • Pajamas (sizes that will work the first few days she's here before we know her size)
  • Yoga pants/lounge clothes (sizes that will work for the first few days she's here before we know her size)
  • Sunglasses
  • Fun jewelry (not sure if her ears are pierced) 
  • Other accessories 
  • Teen approved purse
  • Small Wallet
  • Hair Brush
  • Toothbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Bath and Body works products, shower gel, body spray etc)
  • Makeup bag
  • Hair Accessories (Teen approved? I'm new to this age!)
  • Gift Card for make up (we will take her to pick it out while she's here)
  • Hair Accessories (Teen approved? I'm new to this age!)
  • Pedicure gift certificate
  • Manicure gift certificate 
  • Gas cards to help with trips to air port, Yosemite, waterslides, beach trip, etc.
  • Gift cards to clothing stores (Target, Old Navy, forever 21 or other fun stores)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Only a few weeks till "M" arrives!

When I used to think of hosting the first thing that came to mind was the cost.  When God put it on our hearts to host it was a month before the money would need to be turned in and although I was dreading that part,  He provided! We raised the money needed to cover her hosting fees.  Each time I saw a pay pal email, fb message, Someone giving me a check or cash at church, or new horizons account statement update, I was humbled by the generosity of the people in our circle!  I can not wait to show "M" her puzzle and explain that all the people whose names are on the back are people who made it possible for her to come here this summer!   

God continues to show me he knew this was a good summer for us to host- I was disappointed that our family vacations (that we planned and paid for back in January) were taking place before "M" arrives on June 29.  I wanted her to be able to go camping and to Montana with us but God knew better than me.  We've never had trips this close together before but it just happened that way this summer.    In a Facebook group I'm a part of with other people that are hosting this summer someone shared that one thing we need to be intentional about before our host child gets here is filling our bio kids love tanks and making sure we are being intentional about spending time with our spouses so that we can go into hosting as relationally healthy as possible.   After spending the past 5 days with my family and doing nothing but focusing on our kiddos and spending time with them, building sand castles,
sitting around the Bon fire, eating every meal together, even all six of us sleeping in a tent together has been so good for us.  My sister and her family went camping with us, they recently adopted my nephew who they first met through the hosting program and this was the first year he was here to come camping with us.   Getting that time to see how he's adjusting to his new family almost brings me to tears.  He is so brave, helpful, positive and has more energy then I could imagine... He is respectful and kind.  He isn't perfect and had his moody times (although not as many as my own kids) He misses his friends from where he is from but he likes America.  When we were walking on the beach we passed a section that was owned by a private highschool- a boarding school.  I told the kids that it was a boarding school and his response was "that's horrible".  While I'm pretty sure the ocean front  $20k a year boarding school is different than his boarding school he attended his whole life until he moved here, it made my heart break a little and made me so thankful Todd and Amy followed Gods calling for them to adopt this sweet boy.  

In a couple days our vacation continues as we get to spend a week in Montana with more people that we love.  One thing that I want to do while we're there is make "M" affirmation cards.  I want to give her one each night before bed- something that tells her how much she is loved and how God created her in his image, tell her that she can Trust in Him.  I ordered her John MacArthurs study bible in her language, I would love to have each affirmation supported by a scripture so she can become familiar with her Bible and hopefully she will continue to turn to that source of comfort when she goes back home.   So If you have a favorite verse please Facebook it to me and I will find the translation and put it on a card for her!   

I have had a few people ask me what else she needs while she's here.  I started a list I will post later for those that are interested in helping with that.  Thank you all for your love and support.  We are excited to meet "M" in just a few weeks! 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

5 Days Left!

This week "M" most likely found out she has been chosen for summer hosting!  She doesn't know who we are yet or where in the USA she will be spending her summer but she knows she was picked out of over 200 kids to join a family for 6 weeks!  We are so excited!

This Friday we are supposed to have all of our hosting fees paid.  I am in awe of how God has provided the money needed so far to host "M" this summer.  We only need to "sell"  80 more puzzle pieces at $5 each in order to cover our hosting fees.   We get weekly statements from New Horizons and each time I get a statement I almost cry over the generosity of people.  This has been a very humbling experience.  With each sign I take the time to paint I think of how the person that ordered it is helping this sweet girl this summer.  I have already been blessed through this process and she's not even here yet!  In addition to the puzzle pieces, signs and very generous donations I did school pictures for the preschool and kinder last week and put all of the funds towards our hosting fees.  Thank you so much to the generous families who ordered pictures to help support our summer adventure!  

So... 80 more pieces ($400) in 5 days!  I know this will happen!  Will you help?  You can donate to me in person, on pay pal, ( or directly to the New Horizons Website ( make a donation and add E1076 in the notes to ensure it goes to us).   If you would still like to purchase a sign let me know and I can let you know an estimated wait time on that too!  Thank you all again for your continued love and support, we couldn't do this without you! 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Hosting Fees Update!

We have raised just about half of what we need to cover the cost of our hosting fees for "M" this summer!  This is so exciting!  We have two weeks left to come up with the other half!  Will you help us by completing this puzzle of California?  Each piece is $5.  I will write you name or message on the back of your piece and "M" will get to take the puzzle home with her.  Thank you all so much for your love and support.   For more information on what and why we are doing what we are doing you can click here!   

You can make a donation through paypal using  or straight to new Horizons For Children by visiting  Please select donate to a specific child and enter  E1076 in the comment field! (It seems you may have a problem specifying a specific child on an ipad so it may be easiest to use a computer.  Thank you!)  

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Our biggest summer adventure

Summer is always so exciting, always something to look forward to.  No school, not too many places we need to be, no sports... a break from our busy lives!  Summer is comfortable and relaxing and we purposely make it that way - until this summer.

This summer we are choosing to do something totally out of our comfort zone.   This summer we are taking a leap of faith and hosting an orphan through New Horizons for Children.  Many of you know this is how my sister and her family met their now son Sergejs.  They hosted him through this program a few years ago and ended up adopting him.  He is such a joy to our family and it has been such a blessing to see God's hand in every part of their story.

We know that we are not going to adopt so we are choosing to host an "aged out" orphan. This is someone who is too old to be adopted, and even if we wanted to, we could not pursue her adoption.  We are going to host a teenage girl, for sake of privacy on the blog we will call her "M".

My sister is the volunteer coordinator for our region so of course the idea of hosting has been in the back of my mind since they started releasing photos and bios of kids in orphanages in Eastern Europe.  These kids are waiting, hoping, and praying they would be picked to come to the US for the summer.   A chance to experience a new country and live as part of a family, maybe for the first time in their lives.

Then a few days ago the thought in the back of my mind moved to the front of my mind.  I always thought of hosting a little one and for many reasons I knew that wasn't possible.   Then I remembered there were also teens in the program.  They know they can't be adopted but they still want the chance to be a part of a family and to experience the love that comes with that.  It was all of the sudden so clear.  We should host a teenage girl!  I got online and started looking through all the children in the program that haven't been chosen yet.  I read their bios that tell of their likes and dislikes, I narrowed it down to four young ladies that I thought would be a good fit and then called my sister for more information.  She helped me narrow it down to "M".    I started thinking about all of the logistics...
Where would she sleep?  What would we do all day?  How would the kids feel about having a teen in the house?  I really couldn't think of one dilemma that didn't have a solution.   So then I called Brian at work and told him my grand idea.  HAHA oh God is so good.  He gave me the perfect husband for me.  Brian is wise, he is cautious and he is so good at dealing with all of my grand ideas.

Brian of course expressed all of the same dilemmas I had already sorted through.  He came home for lunch that day and we made a pros and cons list.  There were way many more pros than cons but he still was not ready to commit.  So I gave him another 24 hours.  I called him at work again the next day and asked if he had any more thoughts on hosting.  He said he wanted me to talk to a dear friend who has three teenage girls to get an idea of what we might be dealing with, so I did.  Then I called him back again and shared about our conversation.  He then gave me the "OK go for it".  He said the only reasons he could think of to not host this young girl were selfish reasons.  Things like he would have to share the tv at night with another person, or that the summer wouldn't be as comfortable as it usually is. He said that when you compare those meaningless little things to the opportunity we have to change someone's life, how could we not do it?  I love my husband's honest heart and willingness to serve. I am so thankful for him.

So our summer may not be as comfortable as we are used to, but it will be meaningful.  Our goal (and the goal of the program) is to teach this girl about LOVE.   God's love, the love of a family, and how to love herself.   We will do this by showing her unconditional love.  Love her when it's hard and when it's easy, when it's exciting and when it's uncomfortable.  We are trusting God will show us how to do this and how we can most make a difference in her life.

So what's next??  Well "M" wont be here until late June but a lot has to happen before then.  We have completed the hosting application and its time to start paying for the hosting.   Hosting costs a lot of money.  Some of the costs include her plane ticket, catastrophic health insurance while she is here, paying for her visa, background checks and much more.  In addition to making those payments once she gets here we will need a few things.   She will come with nothing but the clothes on her back.  We will provide her with clothes that she gets to take back with her when she leaves and a rolling duffel bag to take them home in.  We will need to get her into a dentist (Our dentist has agreed to cover this!  Praise God!) and the eye doctor.   The idea of raising this money is my biggest fear in this process but I know God is ABLE.  So will you help?  I have come up with two fundraisers to help with the cost to bring "M" to our home this summer.

#1.  The puzzle fundraiser!   I am ordering a puzzle of California that I will give "M".  If you would like to help us show love to this girl you can buy a puzzle piece for $5.  Once you pay for the puzzle piece I will write your name and any message you want to include onto the back of the puzzle.  This is an awesome keepsake for "M"!

#2.  Wood Signs.  I have posted photos below of three signs I have made specifically to help support hosting costs.  Each sign is 8in x 8in.  With your donation of $20 ($3 more for shipping) you can pick what sign you want (or customize your own sign with different colors, stain, and wording).  Signs are made on a very thin ply wood and are light weight. (Your name will also be added to the puzzle with  this donation).

All donations can be paid through PayPal using  Please include what you want for your sign/what you want on the back of the puzzle piece in the notes when you pay. 

Thank you so much for all of your support and love.   Please pray for us as we navigate through this process and pray for "M" as she prepares to come to our home for the summer.  Pray for her heart to be ready to receive the love God has to offer her.  Thank you!

** Update  4/20/15**

To make a tax deductible donation you can donate online at  Just select donate to a specific child and be sure to include "M's" Number E1076 and our last name!  Thank you!

So far we have $200 donated/pledged and she has a $250 scholarship!  We have about $2,700 left to go towards her hosting fees.  Our blog before the update was viewed over 700 times!!!  If everyone that viewed the blog donated just $5 the fees would be paid for!  Thank you so much for your love and support! 

Also, our eye doctor has agreed to cover her vision screening!  So thankful!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Adoption trip round #2 update!!

81 puzzle pieces have been claimed...this just about completes half of the puzzle! To get a reasonable rate on airfare, they will have to purchase flights next week! Thank you to everyone who has claimed a piece or pieces! If you need this info again, donations can be made:

Through PayPal by using this link and making a friends and family donation to their email address:

With a check mailed to their address:
725 Setter Court
Redding, CA 96003

Who else wants to claim a piece and help make their adoption final? ❤️✈️😊

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Westlund family adoption update!

As a lot of you know my sister and her family are in the process of adopting a 12 year old boy from Eastern Europe.  In November they got to go and stay in his country for three weeks and then bring him home.   Things have been going great but unfortunately this process still has a couple of hurdles to jump through before it's all said and done!

The next obstacle is for my brother in law and my new nephew  to travel back to his home country for 6 days March 29th-April 5th.   During this time they will meet with the orphan court and verify that "S" is doing well and still wants to be adopted.  This will finalize the adoption with his country.   This will be trip #2 of 3.  While this is exciting because it is ensuring things are moving along just as they should, its a little nerve wracking for them because that means they need to come up with the cost of the travel expenses. 

On top of all of that, their family also needs to find a new home to live in by March 31st!  The owner of the home they have been living in the past few years needs to use the house for family.  They have known it about it for awhile but haven't found a new place to call home quite yet.   We have been praying they wouldn't get travel dates for trip #2 until after the move but for some reason God had other plans.

After talking with my sister and her being sure she had drained everyone's well dry with the first half of this adoption process I forced encouraged her to do another fund raiser! She came up with a very meaningful way to earn the funds needed for trip two!  Here is what she wrote on their adoption page on FB.

"As most of you will remember, we started this journey to bring S to California with a puzzle fundraiser! S now has that puzzle hanging in his room as a reminder of all the people who loved, prayed and supported us in bringing him into our family!

2 years later we are doing a puzzle fundraiser to raise the funds needed to make our adoption of S final in his country! We chose the puzzle that S and I worked on  while we were there on trip one!  It is of his country and it has 165 pieces! If each piece is claimed for a price of $20, we will have raised enough to cover the cost of two international flights, hotel accommodations and food costs for 6 days/nights!

Donations can be made:
Through PayPal by using this link and making a friends and family donation to our email address:

With a check mailed to our address:
725 Setter Court
Redding, CA 96003

Who would like to help us put this puzzle and our second trip to ****** together?
1 puzzle piece=$20 and we will put your name on the back of each piece you purchase!"

So help me prove her wrong!  Help me make her realize people do still want to contribute and want to see this adoption through to the very end!  We are starting off by buying a puzzle piece for each of our kiddos!  So only 161 pieces left to sell!  Thank you so much for your love and support!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Molluscum Free thanks to ACV!

Ok friends... I am writing this post because I want to give anyone and every one this information regarding Molluscum Contagiosum and what worked for us to get rid of them! Please note I am not speaking as a health care professional and assume no legal responsibility for my recommendation but just a mom who figured out how to get rid of Molluscum!

Over a year ago "C" got these little white bumps on the back of his legs...  They didn't seem like a big deal but at any given time some of them would be irritated and red so he would itch them.   I took him to a P.A. and she told me about Molluscum and said they are very common in kids and that there's not much you can do but they would just go away in a few months.  She even had a hand out ready to go with the information on them because they were so common! She also told me they were contagious and would spread but since there's nothing you can do about them (besides freezing them off and that would be incredibly painful and would leave scarring) there was no point in really worrying about them.  Eventually they would go away. Here's a close up of some of them... The red one is inflamed and the little white bumps were what they looked like most of the time.

I gave it about a month and saw no change, if anything he had more so I decided I would get him into the dermatologist to see if they had a magic cream or something.  I couldn't get into our normal doctor so I made an apt with a PA at another dermatologists office assuming she would maybe have more experience with this pesky virus.  She was very helpful and told me that he had eczema, even though his skin wasn't red and didn't look irritated that because of the eczema his skin wasn't able to fight of the Molluscum.  Her thought was that if we healed his skin from the eczema then Molluscum would go away.  So she gave me a prescription for a body oil to use on his whole body and a cream to put on the areas with the Molluscum.  I used these products every night for a few weeks and still nothing...

Throughout that time I had also tried tea trea oil and a face wash for acne that I had read would help.  Neither of those things seemed to make a difference at all.

Finally I found a few blogs that recommended using Apple Cider Vinegar!  At this point I was willing to try anything.  One blog I saw said you should soak a tiny piece of cotton in the ACV and put it on the Molluscum and put a band aide over it for about 6 hours.  I tried that on some of them but there were so many it was time consuming and started to irritate his skin.  So I tried the advice of another blog and they said ACV baths!  I figured at this point I had to give it a shot, nothing else was working and basketball was coming up so he wasn't going to be able to wear pants forever.  So we started that and I noticed a difference after a few days... here's what we did..

Every night he would shower and wash his hair etc.. Then once he was all clean I would start the bath.  He only had them on his legs so I would fill the bath up just enough to cover his legs with warm water and then pour in about a cup and a half of the ACV.  I'm not even talking about expensive ACV from the health food store.. I'm talking about the cheapest stuff in the gallon size from Raley's or Target!  $3 a gallon!  I wouldn't measure it.. just pour for a few seconds.  He would mix it all around and sit in it for about 10 minutes.  We wouldn't rinse or anything after, just pat dry.   I would put lotion or body oil on his whole body after the bath.

I noticed all of the white bumps started reacting to the ACV.  They all turned red and the lotion helped him not to itch them.   With all of the Molluscum reacting to the ACV at the same time it was a little bit alarming because it looked so bad.  I just kept it up because I knew this was part of the process to them dying.  Finally after about a month they are gone!  We did a ACV bath every single night for about three weeks.  I still do them about two times a week to make sure there aren't any hiding and also to prevent any new ones from coming.   I am so happy to finally have this behind us and to know of a solution that will work if any of my other kiddos get it!

Here are a few more tips I have to keep Molluscum from spreading*
-Wash your hand with antibacterial after treating the Mollusucm
-Try as hard as possible not to touch or itch the Molluscum... The contagious part is in the white bump and if breaks open that is what will make it spread.
-Never re wear clothing that has touched the Mollusucm.  We wash EVERYTHING after wearing it once to make sure its not spreading.
-My son had it on his legs so after the ACV bath and lotion he was only allowed to wear pajama pants to bed.   No shorts.
-Use towels only once and no sharing!  When you have lots of little ones it's easy to line them all up after bath and pat them down before getting them dressed but this is a sure way to spread the Molluscum!  Whatever towel I used for my son I would make sure and take it straight to the washer.  More laundry for awhile but it is so worth it!
-Gummy Vitamins with Vitamin C boost to help his immune system fight of the virus from the inside

*I've read that the virus can't live on clothing etc but it was still worth it to me to be extra careful not to give it any chance of spreading.

I was too embarrassed to talk about the Molluscum with anyone but once they started to clear up I started talking about it and realized  A LOT of people I talked to had kids with it or knew someone that did!  I hope this blog will find them and they can get rid of them like we did!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Gudgels Do Disney Part 1- Shoes and Ears

We have been planning a trip to Disneyland for about six months.  As our trip has gotten closer I find myself doing a lot of unnecessary planning for our adventure.  I love crafting so give me an excuse and I'm going to run with it!  I will blame this one on my sister in love- Katie.  For Christmas this year we did "family" gifts with Brian's siblings.  For our family gift Katie got us matching Disneyland shirts (I will share those in a later post).  Of course I had to start thinking about what K & T would wear with their personalized Minnie shirts and all of the sudden I was in craft mode.  That combined with Brian telling me the girls probably should have some tennis shoes for comfortable walking riding in the stroller I knew it was time to get my craft on.  So here is post one of our Disney adventures... Disney shoes and Disney ears for our girlies.

Here is what you need-
For the Shoes:
-Ribbon- Size 5/8" for the laces and the "flare"
-Size 7/8" for the base of the bow
-Floral Wire
-Fray Check
-Buttons: Two big and four small
-Glue Gun

For the ears
-1.5" Ribbon
-Black Sparkle foam
-Black foam with sticky back
-Alligator Clip
-Glue Gun
-Fray Check

 I decided it would be easier for me to make a video of me blinging out the shoes and making the ears rather than showing each step in pictures.. It's a little long so just scan through to the parts you have questions about.  I gave a lot of details... I also say "and" a lot.   Happy crafting!